April 21, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame vs. Virginia
April 22-23, 2017
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(27-15, 11-7 ACC in 2017)
(17-29, 5-13 ACC in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekly Schedule
Saturday, April 22
Notre Dame vs. Virginia – 1 p.m. (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Notre Dame vs. Virginia – 3 p.m. (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Sunday, April 23
Notre Dame vs. Virginia – Noon (ET)/ACC Network Extra
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As part of a vibrant weekend around campus, the University of Notre Dame softball team welcomes Virginia to Melissa Cook Stadium for the first time. The Irish and Cavaliers are set to square off in a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series beginning with a Saturday doubleheader at 1 p.m. (ET), and the series finale to follow on Sunday at noon. All three games will air on ACC Network Extra.
Irish Slap Hits
– Notre Dame has amassed a 1,173-509-3 (.697) all-time record, 30 combined conference championships (19 regular season, 11 tournament) and 21 NCAA Regional appearances, which has included 18 straight berths into the NCAA Championship tournament.
– A walk-off single by Caitlyn Brooks in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Notre Dame to a 6-5 win over Western Michigan on Wednesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium. It was the 11th win earned by the Irish in the final inning of a game in 2017, and was the sixth walk-off victory to end a contest.
– The Irish have won their last 27 nonconference midweek games at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to the 2013 season.
– Notre Dame claimed its fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series by sweeping NC State 4-3, 5-0 and 5-2 last weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Irish have won 10 of their last 12 games in ACC play dating back to March 24.
– Notre Dame established a pair of season-highs on April 12 against IUPUI, scoring 13 runs on 16 hits in six innings during a 13-4 win at Melissa Cook Stadium.
– Senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester successfully stole her 117th career base in the bottom of the second inning against IUPUI on April 12 to pass baseball great Steve Stanley (1999-2002) as the all-time Notre Dame softball/baseball leader in stolen bases (now at 118). Wester also has the most hits (301) and runs scored (211) in Irish softball history, with all three totals ranking among the top 10 of active players in NCAA Division I softball.
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 28th straight season with a .500 record or better with a 43-13 final mark to close the 2016 campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has logged 29 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
Late Heroics Lift Irish Over WMU
A seventh-inning RBI single for Caitlyn Brooks was the deciding run for Notre Dame in a 6-5 win over Western Michigan on Wednesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium. Facing a full-count with two outs and the bases full in the bottom of the seventh, Brooks laced a pitch to the gap in right center to score Alexis Bazos for the winning Notre Dame run.
The Irish have now won 27 consecutive midweek games at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to March of 2013, their longest such streak in the history of the facility since it opened in 2008.
ND Thrives In The Clutch
With the walk-off RBI single that lifted Notre Dame past Western Michigan on Wednesday, the Irish have now won 11 games as a result of their final plate appearance thus far in 2017.
Notre Dame has earned eight victories in the seventh inning or later after entering the frame either trailing or tied, including three bottom of the seventh walk-offs. The Irish have added three run-rule walk-offs in the bottom of fifth innings during home games.
The Irish opened the season with a win thanks to a bottom of the seventh wild pitch to defeat Weber State 2-1 on Feb. 10. Katie Marino struck for Notre Dame on Feb. 25, delivering a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-4 win over No. 4 Oklahoma. A fielder’s choice and error in the top of the eighth capped the Notre Dame tournament comebacks during a 5-3 win over FIU on March 4.
At the conclusion of a wild three-game conference series at Georgia Tech, Morgan Reed established a Notre Dame single-game record with eight RBI thanks to a grand slam in the top of the eighth in an 8-6 win over the Yellow Jackets on March 12. The opening Irish home game of 2017 against Michigan State (March 22) ended at 11-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to an RBI single from Madison Heide. Notre Dame’s homestand featured a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning that secured a 9-1 Irish win in game two against Virginia Tech on March 24.
Melissa Rochford, whose two-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning tied the aforementioned FIU contest, struck again in the opening game of a three-game series at Louisville on April 1. Rochford’s two-run single with two away in the top of the seventh vaulted Notre Dame to a 5-4 win over the Cardinals. Rochford followed up in the subsequent ACC series against North Carolina on April 8, singling in the bottom of the seventh frame for a 2-1 Notre Dame win.
Kimmy Sullivan continued her hot hitting at Melissa Cook Stadium on April 12, depositing a walk-off, three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 13-4 win over IUPUI. Reed returned with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning later in the week during game one of a series at NC State on April 14, with the big fly ultimately guiding Notre Dame over the Wolfpack 4-3.
Mo Heating It Up In April
In her first 12 starts of the month of April, Notre Dame slugger Morgan Reed has continued her torrid offensive pace that has been on display throughout the 2017 season. Reed is batting .410 (16-for-39) with seven extra-base hits, 11 RBI, three stolen bases and a team-high 13 runs scored during the month.
Reed leads all Notre Dame hitters with a .400 batting average, 39 RBI, 17 extra-base hits, a .453 on-base percentage and a .638 slugging percentage this season.
Irish Finding Their Groove In ACC
A slow 1-5 start to ACC play did not deter Notre Dame to open the conference slate. If anything, the beginning of the 2017 league docket vaulted the Irish toward a strong finish in the conference’s second half.
Notre Dame is 10-2 in its last 12 ACC games, which has included series victories against Virginia Tech (sweep), Louisville, North Carolina and NC State (sweep). The Irish are batting a cumulative .339 over their last 12 league contests, outhitting opponents 116-71 and outscoring foes 62-34.
Perhaps most important has been the emergence of Notre Dame’s pitching staff in recent conference games. Irish pitchers have logged a 2.70 team ERA in their last 12 ACC starts, and have limited opponents to a .234 batting average against.
Irish Offense At Home
Over the first 11 home games of the 2017 season, Notre Dame has continued red hot production at the plate inside Melissa Cook Stadium. Irish players have batted a combined .373 as a team inside their friendly confines, outscoring opponents 74-31 with 69 RBI during the 10-1 start at home.
All nine regular Notre Dame starters are batting .300 or above in home games. Along with 27 walks and being hit by pitch seven times, the Irish compiled a .432 on-base percentage over their first 11 home starts.
Irish Against The ACC
Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, Notre Dame is a combined 172-62 (.735) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame leads its all-time series with Virginia 14-0, as the teams prepare to clash for the first time on the Notre Dame campus this weekend.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.